“Being happy isn’t getting what you want, it’s wanting what you have.”
– Carrie Fisher
It’s the end of Money Month and so here’s a bit of an overall update for those who have been playing along. Writing about money and consumption has been a really helpful exercise for me in trying to consciously change or update my habits. In some cases I was surprised at the personal insights I explored, in others, I only confirmed my existing suspicions about my financial choices.
What have we done?
As a broad status report, our student loan debt is down from nearly $100k initially to less than $16k. Huzzah!
I’ve written a new household budget that I’ll be sticking to (and reporting back on periodically, as it ticks off a 101/1001 goal).
I kicked off another personal shopping ban, one month of three down!
I reinstated my monthly cash budget and stuck to it. In fact, I took it a step further and consolidated all the spare cash and coins in the house to start using our loose change instead of letting it accumulate. As a result, I didn’t once withdraw cash from an ATM this month.
I ticked off another 101/1001 goal by documenting my spending daily, and I learned quite a bit about my casual spending and how it adds up.
Where do we go from here?
Two more months of a personal spending freeze before another self evaluation.
In February I’m going to try and avoid eating out once to tick off another 101/1001 and save in the area where a lot of my discretionary money has gone.
In March I’m going to try and limit my grocery spending to £40 a week, which will require some more planning than usual.
No entertainment spending for two months as well. Instead of going to the theatre or movies etc., I’m going to put that money towards outstanding credit card balances.
Develop a family monthly credit card payment plan. Some months we’ve paid large payments, others just the minimum. I’d like to set monthly target as part of the larger goal to pay them off entirely in the foreseeable future. With our student loans in hand and a sustainable path forward on them, credit is the area of my financial life I want to tackle next.
Incorporate regular donations to causes I care about. Setting aside the personal if this month has taught me anything it’s that this is not a time in which to stay stay silent.
What I’ve learned:
I still believe I’m not bad with money, but what I’ve discovered I am is unregimented and that needs to change.
Specificity is everything. Limits or targets that I can monitor and track helps tremendously, while having a lofty or vague sort of goal is useless to me. I’m not a vision board girl, I’m a list girl!
Breaking down my financial goals into even smaller increments than I used to also helps me achieve larger aims. Sometimes even monthly goals are too vague for me or too easy to forget–or talk myself out of! Weekly goals, on the other hand, are a lot easier for me to keep at the top of my priority list. I’m amending a lot of my habits around this insight, not just financial ones.
What’s a financial goal you’ll be working on this year? How will you be tracking it?